The hard drive you use in your computer’s boot drive will play a huge role in the performance of the overall system.
If you want your PC to turn on in a jiffy, have programs to run fast and to limit the amount of time spent waiting for your applications to load, you’d need the best SSD for boot drive in your budget.
There is no doubt in that you will notice a huge difference in performance when you replace a spinning platter HDD with an SSD.
Here we look at some of the best option for average users as well as for professionals and also talk about some important pointers on SSD as boot drive below.
All SSDs are not created equally. In the FAQ section below, we talk further about how too choose the right SSD for yourself.
SSDs are generally not used as a solution for having a large storage for archiving or backup, instead, they are used for “hot data” or the most used data. Operating system, for instance, is single-handedly the hottest data that is accessed every microsecond of the time your PC is on.
Hence, having a high performance SSD for your boot drive can significantly boost your PC’s performance.
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Comparison of Top SSD for Boot Drive
|WD Blue |
|Samsung SSD |
|WD Black |
List of Best SSD for Boot Drive in 2021
- WD Blue 3D NAND – Affordable 2.5” SATA SSD for Boot Drive
- Samsung SSD 860 Evo – Very Popular SATA SSD
- Crucial MX500 – Fast 560MB/s SATA SSD
- WD Black SN750 – High-Performance NVMe M.2 SSD for Cheap
- Samsung 970 Pro – High Performance 3.5GB/s NVME SSD for Boot Drive
- Samsung 980 PRO – PCIe V4.0 SSD
1. WD Blue 3D NAND – Affordable 2.5” SATA SSD For Boot Drive
An affordable 2.5″ SATA SSD. Perfect for most PCs and can serve well as a boot drive.
One of the most affordable and a highly recommended SATA SSD for boot drive. WD Blue is basically the affordable line of hard drive for essential use.
If you are an average user just looking to stop those very long system loading times, then this can provide you an affordable solution.
The drive itself is very fast, you can get 560 MB/s of read speeds and about 530 MB/s of write speeds and this will let you boot up your computer and programs installed in the drive very fast.
Compare this to an average high performance 7200RPM Hard Disk Drive that has a typical transfer speed of 150 MB/s.
Because the drive utilizes a SATA interface, you can easily install it in the slot of an older HDD for booting if replacing. Plus, most desktop motherboards have a plethora of SATA ports that you can hook this into
If you are upgrading your laptop, you can place it in the place of your older hard drive since it has the 2.5″ form factor. This is the same form factor used by laptop hard disks.
2. Samsung SSD 860 Evo – Very Popular SATA SSD
A highly popular SATA III SSD for PC with a 2.5 inch form factor.
The 2.5” Samsung SSD 860 Evo is another great unit for users who want to upgrade their boot disk to one that performs much faster but doesn’t cost too much.
We have selected this hard drive because of its popularity. Basically, if want to get a SATA 2.5 inch SSD, then you cannot go wrong with either this or the WD Blue above, they both are some of the best in their category.
3. Crucial MX500 – For M.2 SATA Slot
A SATA SSD suitable for M.2 SATA slot. Great choice for those who have an extra M.2 slot in their desktop or laptop.
This is a SATA SSD with an M.2 form factor and being an M.2 SATA SSD means this can fit in the dedicated M.2 socket in the motherboard. M.2 slots can be found on both laptops and desktop motherboards.
This is particularly great for slightly older motherboards that do not have the M.2 NVMe slot, but do have the M.2 SATA slot.
Even on some of the newer motherboard with dual or triple M.2 slots, you will notice that sometimes one of the M.2 slots can only support SATA SSD. So in this case, Crucial MX500 makes sense too. It is important to read your motherboard slot specification just to be sure.
Capacities range from 250 GB and you can get one with up to 2TB of storage.
This one comes in the 2280SS size so you should ensure that you have the correct size slot on your motherboard before you purchase it.
Performance-wise, the MX500 can deliver read speeds of 560MB/s and write speeds of 510MB/s – which is quite typical of a SATA SSD.
4. WD Black SN750 – High Performance M.2 SSD
A gaming grade high performance NVME SSD. Suitable as a boot drive for gaming setups.
The WD Black SN750 is a reasonably priced high performance SSD drive based upon the NVMe protocol. In other words, this can achieve speeds 5 times or more faster than the SATA SSD drives reviewed above.
You will need to make sure that you do have an NVMe supported M.2 slot on your motherboard before you choose to procure this SSD.
It will NOT work with the SATA ports. Even if you get an adapter (i.e NVMe to SATA), the speeds will be brought down to the SATA protocol.
It comes in typical range of capacities from 250GB to 2TB and is ideal for speed enthusiasts, people who want their computers to flash through tasks quickly and efficiently.
Read and write speeds on this device can go up to 3470MB/s and 3000MB/s respectively so even when booting up you can expect to see very little waiting times before your computer is ready to use.
This SSD is thus more catered toward gamers and those looking for ultra fast booting speeds such as editors and professionals.
Other than the OS, the applications will also load much faster compared to having an HDD or even a SATA SSD.
5. Samsung 970 Pro SSD – Very Fast 3.5 GB/s NVME SSD for Boot Drive
The Samsung 970 Pro SSD is another high performance NVMe SSD drive. Like the previous SSD, this is also fast, however this is more catered towards professionals such as video editors or gamers.
Note that the Samsung 970 Evo and 970 Pro are two different NVMe SSD with drastically different price factor as well as performance. You can read about their comparison here.
As with all M.2 NVME SSDs, this utilizes the high-speed PCIe bus for connection and can let you move files around with speeds of 3.5GB/s for reads and 2.7GB/s for writes.
Since it manages to squeeze every bit out of the PCIe performance, it can drastically boost the speeds for booting your system.
Unfortunately, the only issue here is that this is much more expensive than the base Evo version. This is more catered toward video editors, designers and content creators.
Storage capacities for this unit are available in two sizes i.e 512 GB and 1 TB. Hence, larger 2 TB drives are not available. This drive is thus to be used primary for your OS and your professional software NOT for archiving files and media.
In addition to being fast, the drive comes with protection against overheating therefore safeguarding itself from damage due to high temperatures during operation.
All in all, if you are looking for a professional high performance option, then this is the best SSD for boot drive.
6. Samsung 980 PRO – PCIe V4.0 SSD
One of the fastest PCIe V4.0 based NVMe SSD.
This is one of the latest breed of NVMe SSDs to have hit the market. Samsung 980 Pro is a 4th gen NVMe SSD. See the previous NVMe SSDs mentioned were all based on the PCIe v3.0 standard through put.
This, however, conforms to the newer PCIe v4.0 standard and hence doubles the speed. As if the NVMe SSDs weren’t already fast enough, this SSD takes the read speeds to 6900 MB/s almost doubling that of the previous gen NVMe SSD.
As far as the cost is concerned, this is expensive compared to an average PCIe V3.0 SSD, however, if you are looking for cutting edge speeds for your boot drive then this is what you should aim for.
The issue here, however, is that you will need a PC that supports the newer protocol. Installing this on an older V3.0 PCIe lane will literally be a waste of money.
So if you have recently built a new PC and you want to have one of the fastest storage, then this is the best storage for boot drive as well as for your applications in general.
What is a Boot Drive?
All computers need an Operating System (OS) to work. The OS itself stays in the computer’s hard drive from where it can be loaded into RAM when you switch on your computer.
The disk drive in which the OS is installed is what is known as the boot drive. Because it has the OS, a slow boot drive can result in bottlenecks for your computer which will, in turn, affect the performance.
To be on the safe side, you should consider an SSD over an HDD as the boot drive.
Can SSD Be Used a Boot Drive?
It mostly certainly can be there is not question about that.
However, in order to use the SSD as a boot drive, you need to select it first as so from the BIOS. Depending upon the version of your BIOS, the interface can be different.
But the principle remain the same. To install windows or an operating system on a PC and to boot from it, you need to set the SSD as your primary boot device from your BIOS.
M.2 NVMe vs SATA SSD vs HDD Loading Times
Choosing the Right Boot Drive SSD
SSDs have gotten so much cheaper over the last decade that having one is no longer a luxury.
Nevertheless, when looking for an SSD, you should consider your needs in terms of both storage capacities and performance as these are the two major factors that will impact your satisfaction the most.
When it comes to SSDs, you have two Options
- SATA SSDs
- NVMe SSD
SATA SSDs come in 2.5″ form factor are almost similar in size to the 2.5″ HDD found in a laptop.
Modern SATA SSDs conform to the SATA III Spec which means they can have a maximum bandwidth of about 6 Gb/s which translates to 750MB/s. However, real-world speeds usually max out at about 560 MB/s.
While they are slower than NVME SSDs, SATA SSDs are still several times faster than regular HDDs. A regular 7200 RPM HDD has transfer speeds of about 150 MB/s
When To Invest in SATA SSDs?
There three instances when investing SATA SSDs over NVME SSDs may make more sense:
- You want something cheaper as SATA SSDs are cheaper than NVMe SSDs.
- You do not have an M.2 Slot on your PC.
- You do not have sufficient PCIe lanes.
These kinds of SSDs are very fast and offer some of the best performance you will ever get from a mass storage device.
This is because they rely on a computer’s PCIe bus which offers a high bandwidth connection to the chipset, allowing faster transfer speeds.
The best thing about these devices is their performance since you can get an upwards of 8 GB/s with some top of the line NVMe SSDs.
However, great performance also comes with a somewhat larger price tag. The price per Gigabyte for an NVMe SSD is much higher than that of a SATA SSD.
NVMe SSD Performance Depends On PCIe Version
The theoretical speed of the NVMe SSD depends upon the PCIe version of your PC/motherboard.
The most common version at the moment is PCIe v3.0. Most of the NVMe SSD available at the moment conform to the PCIe v3.0 protocol.
However, PCIe v4.0 SSDs are already out in the market such as the Samsung EVO 980 Pro.
There is a drastic difference between an NVMe SSD that runs on PCIe 3.0 vs the one that runs on PCIe v4.0. For starters know that a typical M.2 slot, where an NVMe SSD goes, uses four PCIe lanes.
Each PCIe lane has the theoretical speed as follows:
- PCIe v3.0: 0.985 GB/s
- PCIe v4.0: 1.960 GB/s
Hence with four lanes, a PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD can reach speed of about 4 GB/s whereas the newer ones based on the PCIe v4.0 can reach speed of about 8 GB/s. The actually number are a bit slower but you get the point, the newer ones are twice as fast.
They are however, backward compatible so you can use a PCIe V3.0 SSD on a motherboard with PCIe V4.0 lanes.
You will have to check your PC and your system to check what PCIe version it has.
When to get an NVMe SSD over a SATA SSD
NVMe SSDs make more sense if:
- You have a slightly higher budget
- You have a free M.2 NVMe
- You want about 5-6 times as much performance as a SATA SSD
In this article we looked at some of the best SSD for Boot Drives. Choosing an SSD as your primary boot drive can do wonders for the overall speed of your system.
An SSD drive is at least 5 times faster than a normal HDD. That means, booting up your system with an SSD can happen in a jiffy.
Of course, SSDs have the issue of a higher price tag. An SSD is expensive particularly if you choose to go for NVME SSDs.
As such, there is a trade-off but if performance is your primary goal, then SSD as a boot drive is an absolute must.